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A common metal short-link chain
Roller chains

A chain is a serial assembly of connected pieces, called links, typically made of metal, with an overall character similar to that of a rope in that it is flexible and curved in compression but linear, rigid, and load-bearing in tension. A chain may consist of two or more links. Chains can be classified by their design, which can be dictated by their use:

Two distinct chains can be connected using a quick link, carabiner, shackle, or clevis. The load can be transferred from a chain to another object by a chain stopper.

Uses for chain

Links of the American Revolutionary War-era Hudson River Chain as a memorial at West Point

Uses for chain include:


Power transfer

Security and restraint

Traction, pulling and lifting

Ball chain pull switch for a ceiling light


Other uses

Chains on a disc golf basket

Types of chain

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Several methods are available to connect chain ends to each other or to other objects, and to apply a load to a chain away from the ends. These methods are usually specific to the type of chain, and must be of the correct size.

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The metal link chain has been in use since at least 225 BC.[1]


The prevalent modern symbolism is oppression,[citation needed] due to the use for a mechanical restriction of the liberty of a human or animal.

Chains can also symbolize interconnectivity or interdependence. Unicode, in versions 6.x, contains the U+1F517 🔗 LINK SYMBOL, which may show chain link(s). It may also denote a hyperlink.


See also


  1. ^ As early as 225 BC, chain was used to draw a bucket of water up from a well. This very early bucket chain was composed of connected metal rings.Tsubakimoto Chain Co., ed. (1997). The Complete Guide to Chain. Kogyo Chosaki Publishing Co., Ltd. p. 240. ISBN 0-9658932-0-0. p. 211. Retrieved 17 May 2006.